Dear Students and Colleagues,
In the last two weeks alone, the United States has seen three horrific mass shootings in which dozens of innocent people – including 19 children – were slaughtered by gunfire. From a church in Laguna Woods, California, to a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, to an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas; so many precious lives have been erased by unspeakable violence and twisted hatred.
In California, the victims were targeted because they were Taiwanese. In Buffalo, because they were Black. We do not know why a gunman chose to enter Robb Elementary School in Uvalde to murder children and educators, but answering the question will bring no comfort to their loved ones, their community, or the entire nation that is grieving for them and all the victims of the senseless shootings that afflict this nation. For those of us in Connecticut, we are once again reminded of the painful memory of the killing of children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown a decade ago. Our wish was that it would never happen again.
In our grief, we can feel helpless and hopeless. We know that ours is the only country in the world where mass shootings happen on a regular basis. Hopelessness, though, improves nothing and benefits no one. As individuals, we can contribute acts of kindness, of sympathy, and of charity. But as a public university, we have a responsibility to provide citizens and policymakers with the research and data they need to implement real solutions that will reduce the likelihood of such horrific violence.
At UConn, faculty members ranging in disciplines from public policy, law, psychiatry, and social work have applied themselves to gathering data and working within communities to uncover the sources of violence, and to craft tools for reducing that violence. They are at the forefront of a national movement of interdisciplinary scholarship that sees gun violence not as a problem without a solution, but as a challenge that will yield to the application of informed policies by an engaged citizenry. A discussion of some of the research being done, and the insights of the faculty members behind it can be found here.
Nothing will ease the grief and outrage we feel in the wake of every mass shooting. But in order to address the problem we first need to understand it. We rely on our faculty to help us do that, and we are fortunate to have dedicated scholars at UConn willing to take up the challenge.
Our hearts will always be with the victims and their loved ones.
Radenka Maric, President
Anne D’Alleva, Provost & Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Dr. Bruce Liang, Chief Executive Officer & Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, UConn Health